Expect water and sewer delivery delays for now. That’s according to Bethel City Manager Peter Williams. State officials are starting to enforce weight limits on the city’s water and sewer trucks.
The Alaska Department of Transportation's Office of Weights and Measures informed the city at 4 p.m. on Friday that trucks driving on Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway at maximum weight loads are likely to be ticketed.
The highway is state run, and last year when the DOT first came down on the city about their overweight delivery trucks, it granted them a six-month permit, which expired at the end of March.
“It’s not only that the services will suffer and get behind,” said Williams.
The last time this happened, Bethel had to cut the loads that trucks could haul by half, Williams says, and it took about a week for the city to start falling behind on its water delivery schedule. This also took its toll on the city drivers. Many got burnt out from the amount of overtime hours they worked.
“And then eventually it gets to be where you’re just running from one house to the other,” Williams said, “and you’re not really on a schedule anymore.”
The other problem, says Williams, is that if ticketed, the drivers, not the city, would be penalized. That means that not only would they get fined, but they could also run the risk of losing their Commercial Driver Licenses.
“We certainly don’t want our employees having to bear that burden, and we don’t want anybody losing their licenses over it,” said Williams.
To comply with the state’s weight requirement, Williams has instructed city drivers to carry half their usual loads for the time being. The city is actively negotiating with the DOT for an extension of its exemption from the weight limits.
One option the DOT put on the table last week, says Williams, is a renewal of the permits in exchange for the city taking on responsibility for maintaining the state road.
At this time, the state Department of Transportation has not responded to KYUK’s multiple requests for comment.